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SAMPLE Zoom-session PowerPoint slides


SAMPLE first feedback on one student's personal statement and supplements

The following are suggestions on a shared Google doc:

You wrote an excellent first-draft essay. What you don't discuss clearly, though, which to me could be the heart of your personal statement, is *how* your transformation took place and you developed discipline, motivation, proactivity, the opposite of procrastination--whatever you might want to call your superpower. Briefly mentioning an exercise that you happened to bump into online leaves out a convincing story of metamorphosis. If you agree, don't worry about exceeding the word limit. We'll figure out later how to whittle down the essay by eliminating content that isn't essential.


It's difficult to follow your train of thought in transitioning from the previous two sentences. Try to word more carefully.


Considered weak vocabulary. Here and elsewhere, aim for a word that's more meaningful, such as "passable", "acceptable", etc.


Based on a single read, this is a really interesting response, and the writing here is superior to your other essays. A first point: It's confusing that you're presenting, as requested, your own group of threes, but you frame it in four labeled steps.


Everything you say here applies to just about any selective college. You need to research the school's website and discuss "special" aspects of the university that appeal to you (specific programs, professor[s], traditions, etc.) plus why they're a good fit for you. If you happen to know anyone who already attends or attended, ask them what's unique about the school. Trustworthy online forums (maybe comments on could provide useful info.


I completely understand the frustration of doing group projects with peers who don't pull their own weight, but if you decide to include this in your response, put a positive spin on it, i.e., instead of mentioning "intolerable people", talk about looking forward to the opportunity of collaborating with serious, like-minded students.


I'm not sure that you answer the prompt as it intends. What you talk about (which *is* meaningful to know about you and could appear elsewhere in your application) is *how* you learn, as opposed to "an idea or experience that makes you genuinely excited about learning". Or is what excites you the systematic method itself that you developed? If that's the case, you need to clarify accordingly.


It's not apparent what you mean by "the recording of information" in sentence one, and "being productive" in the second sentence sounds repetitive. Would it make sense to delete "productivity" from the list of five and replace it with something else while keeping it in sentence two? Which sounds better: "it's all revolved around" or "it all revolves around"? Grammar: "results...helps" or ""?


Think more about how the prompt is worded. Your reply needs to make a clearer connection between what you discuss and how those aspects of your experience/interests/character would play a role in your contribution to the university.


I think that your response here would significantly improve if your second-to-last sentence opens the essay. Try it and let me know if you agree.


Don't repeat "see" with "seen", and explain how, by observing him for a day, you'd be able to learn how Mr. da Vinci increased his efficiency. Or perhaps change the wording, "how he was able to increase his efficiency" so that what you say following that sounds plausible. In any event, I love the gist of your answer :-)


This is a thoughtful response that makes good sense to me, and it aligns with your Common App essay draft. But it seems to be a "first-world" problem for the "haves". What about those less fortunate who are also members of society? Is there a challenge that comes closer to affecting, in a direct way, them as well?


Nice response! You can delete "I spent the last two summers" and change "doing" to "I did" to save five words. More accurate vocabulary than "made"? By the way, a website such as really helps with word choices.


SAMPLE Common App essay before and after guidance

SAMPLE feedback on practice exam essays




SAT sample essay, page 1 of 3

Throughout the body of each practice exam essay that I review over the course of 30 MINUTES, I provide detailed suggestions. I also include a SUMMARY COMMENT AND SCORES like the following SAMPLES FROM FOUR ACT ESSAYS:

Good first try, but your essay was too short to have a chance of earning scores above 3 (you wrote about 250 words, whereas 400 is the minimum that most scorers are looking for). Also, while much of your argument was convincing, some of your thoughts weren't expressed clearly enough, and your overuse of the phrase 'the idea of' dragged down the level of your writing further. Finally, try to do a better job avoiding common mistakes such as missing/misplaced apostrophes, 'affect' vs. 'effect', and random capitalization. Again, nice start :-)
Scores = 3 out of 6

Solid first essay. You're a proficient writer and a strong critical thinker—not a bad combination :-) You also appear to have an excellent knack for presenting examples to illustrate your thinking. Next time, though, try to develop your reasoning more, devoting less space to evidence that doesn't advance your argument. Don't let examples dominate the essay; their purpose is to reinforce your larger point. And reserve 'I' for relating personal experiences. Better yet, avoid 'I' altogether by converting personal examples into hypothetical ones (check back with me if you're not sure how to do that).
Scores = 4 out of 6

I enjoyed reading this! You presented a convincing point of view, although I can't help but worry about the out-of-control robot you referenced in paragraph two :-) In any event, you have a nicely fluid writing style and a strong vocabulary. Just make sure that every paragraph connects clearly to your thesis (see end of paragraph three). Also, for the sake of variety, try to mix in a few long sentences to break up the monotonous rhythm of too many short ones. Finally, because of your small handwriting, consider using a larger 'font'—it could help raise your score by creating the perception of greater length.
Scores = 4 out of 6

Terrific ideas, well expressed. Your argument, however, wasn't organized tightly enough. You have the brainpower and writing skills to earn top scores, but you're less likely to reach them if you don't spend more time planning the structure of your essay. It would make sense, therefore, to jot down your thesis statement on the planning page, followed by a few words summarizing what you'll talk about in each body paragraph. Keep in mind that when the ACT organization added the planning page in 2015, they also added time to the test to allow you to make use of that page.
Scores = 5 out of 6

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